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NORC CEO Dan Gaylin Discusses the Future of Data & Evidence with Mathematica CEO Paul Decker


Meet the Expert: 
Dan Gaylin

June 2024

Dan Gaylin, NORC's president and CEO, recently joined Paul Decker, president and CEO of Mathematica, for an insightful edition of Mathematica's “On the Evidence” podcast.  

In this wide-ranging conversation, the two leaders delve into various challenges their organizations face, including the impact of digital technology, artificial intelligence, and the COVID-19 pandemic on their work. They also discuss the importance of maintaining objectivity while advocating for evidence-based decision-making in an increasingly polarized world. 

Dan also offers his perspective on the evolving role of survey research and the significance of leveraging multiple data sources to address complex questions effectively. The podcast explores the current landscape and future directions for organizations like NORC and Mathematica that aspire to improve public well-being through data-driven insights. 

Key points from the conversation: 

  • Dan's background and path into policy research, driven by his desire to find population-based solutions to improve people's lives. 
  • The two leaders’ gradual transition from research to leadership roles, focusing on the institution's impact and strategies for development. 
  • The importance of digital technology in enhancing data generation, management, analysis, and dissemination, leading to the creation of comprehensive solutions and service offerings. 
  • The challenges and opportunities presented by artificial intelligence (AI), emphasizing the need for organizations to familiarize themselves with the technology, acquire necessary skills, and deploy AI in appropriate ways while managing risks. 
  • Adapting to the post-pandemic work environment, maintaining flexibility while fostering in-person interactions through intentional programming and redesigned office spaces. 
  • The significance of conducting international development work to learn from and contribute to improving lives in other countries while navigating cultural, regulatory, and ethical considerations. 
  • The need for research organizations to increase awareness and visibility of their work to ensure it has a meaningful impact on decision-making and public well-being. 
  • Maintaining objectivity and independence in an increasingly polarized world by adhering to rigorous analysis, transparency, and effective communication of research findings. 
  • The evolving role of survey research, which remains relevant for specific use cases while being complemented by other diverse data sources to address complex questions effectively.